Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Needham astronaut heading back to space on first commercial flights

Space X NASA assigns crews to first test flights, missions on commercial spacecraft
Frank Williams | 06 August, 2018, 14:34

Josh Cassada, a NASA astronaut since 2013, who's going to fly for the first time into space.

The commercial flights will mark the return of crew launches to the U.S., which has not seen humans lift off for space since the end of the iconic space shuttle program seven years ago.

For SpaceX, the Crew Dragon test flight astronauts are spaceflight veterans, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's Commercial Crew effort, explained that the earliest the company can "confidently" do a manned flight test will be in mid-2019.

Following the retirement of the shuttle, USA astronauts have been hitching a ride to the International Space Station (ISS) in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft which lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit.

William ran the first marathon by any person in space.

The first flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon is expected in April 2019, following an unmanned test in November, NASA said.

On the SpaceX vessel will be astronauts Doug Hurley, Victor Glover, Robert Behnken and Michael Hopkins.

United Nations envoy initiates peace negotiations between Yemen's warring parties
The Saudi-led alliance says capturing Hodeidah would cut off the main supply line of the Houthis and force the group to the negotiating table, but it has made no major gains since it launched the offensive on 12 June.

NASA's continuous presence on the space station for nearly 18 years has enabled technology demonstrations and research in biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, human health, physical sciences.

The space agency says each post-certification flight by the CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry four passengers on half-year expeditions to the space station.

At a press conference Friday, Williams said she is excited to use Boeing's craft on the global stage and to help prepare for NASA's future space projects. Nicole Aunapu Mann will be making her first flight; she completed her astronaut training in 2015. Ferguson, the Boeing astronaut, flew three shuttle missions, and has logged more than 40 days in space. Boeing's Ferguson was pilot on STS-116 on board Space Shuttle Atlantis as well as commander of STS-126 on Space Shuttle Endeavour and the final flight of the space shuttle program, STS-135 on board Atlantis. It won't be the first time SpaceX trounces Boeing.

Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts. It'll be his first spaceflight, though he has a wide range of experience with combat missions and testing aircraft.

Suni Williams: Williams was chosen as an astronaut in 1998 after a career in the Navy.

Currently, Dragon is the only spacecraft flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth.

The Government Accountability Office said last month that launch plans could be delayed due to incomplete safety measures and accountability issues in NASA's commercial crew program. He will be joined by Mike Hopkins, a veteran astronaut with more than 160 days at the ISS.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended NASA pursue a backup plan for getting astronauts to the ISS, as its contract with Russian Federation to send them to the station via Soyuz launches in Kazakhstan ends at the close of 2019.

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